How & Why do People Choose Their Massage Therapists?

  • American Massage consumers view the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) as the most trusted and respected name in massage therapy – three times higher than any other massage organization or business.
    Consumers prefer their massage therapist be a member of AMTA three to one over any other national massage organization or business.
  • Consumers see AMTA as having the best trained and educated massage therapists
  • Twice as many massage customers in the past year looked for an AMTA therapist compared to members of any other group.
  • 19 percent of consumers surveyed reported receiving a massage from a professional massage therapist in the past year.

Finding a professional massage therapist is vital to a positive massage experience. AMTA massage therapists have demonstrated a level of ability through education and testing, adhere to a code of ethics and must meet continuing education requirements. AMTA offers a free professional massage therapist locator service at

Massage Therapy for Regular Health Maintenance

78 percent of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was medical (50 percent) or stress (28 percent) related, according to the 20th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association. Medical reasons include pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, pregnancy or pre-natal, and general well-being.

  • 88 percent of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.
  • 89 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 28 percent of respondents stating they have used massage therapy for pain relief.
  • The overall mean (excluding none) was 3.8 massages for those receiving a massage in the past 12 months.
  • Overall mean (excluding none) was 10.2 massages for those receiving a massage in past five years.

Americans’ Reasons for Getting Massages Are Changing

Instead of seeking massage therapy solely for relaxation and pampering purposes, individuals apparently are turning to massage therapy to assist with medical conditions.

  • As few as 27 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering.
    In the previous 12 months, 22 percent of massage consumers received their last massage at a spa compared to 17 percent in 2015.
  • 71 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of healthcare.
  • 50 percent of people have received a massage for one or more of the following reasons: soreness, stiffness or spasms, to relieve or manage stress. For prevention or to improve quality of life, injury recovery or rehabilitation, to keep fit or healthy/maintain wellness, pregnancy/prenatal, or to control headaches or migraines. This compares to 52 percent of respondents in the 2015 study.

Health Care Providers Recommending Massage as a Viable Form of Treatment

Health care providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a legitimate option to address health concerns.

Of consumers who discussed massage therapy with their doctors:

  • 12 percent were referred to a massage therapist by their doctor
  • 51 percent of respondents indicated that they were encouraged by their physician to receive a massage, down from 54 percent in 2015, but up from 48 percent in 2013.

15 percent were told by their doctor that a massage might benefit them.
56 percent of respondents said their physician has recommended they get a massage, up from 54 percent last year.

Consumers are Discussing Specific Medical Conditions with Their Doctors

  • 37 percent of respondents discussed pain relief or pain management with their doctor
  • 26 percent discussed injury recovery or rehabilitation with their doctor
  • 16 percent explained soreness, stiffness, and spasms with their doctor

About the Survey Findings

1 July 2015 survey conducted nationwide by Zogby Analytics of 1,193 adults (18+) on consumer awareness and brand name recognition, as well as consumers’ views of AMTA and its competitor massage associations and employers.

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2 AMTA’s 20th annual consumer survey conducted by ORC International. This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among two national probability samples, which, when combined, consists of 1,005 adults, 504 men and 501 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. 506 interviews were from the landline sample and 499 interviews from the cell phone sample. Interviewing for this survey was completed on July 14-17, 2016.

About AMTA

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is the largest non-profit professional association representing the massage therapy profession. AMTA provides information about massage therapy to the public and works to improve the professional climate for massage therapists. The association also helps consumers and healthcare professionals locate professional massage therapists nationwide, through AMTA’s Find a Massage Therapist-free national locator service available at